by Dave Preston
As of noon Friday, August 17, no campfires will be allowed in the Central Okanagan and throughout Crown lands from Little Fort in the north to Osoyoos in the south.
The move began with an announcement from the Kamloops Fire Centre that all campfires will be banned in all areas of the fire centre except the Clearwater Fire Zone. The ban includes the Okanagan Valley.
The ban is being instituted to help prevent human-caused wildfires and to protect public safety, according to the fire centre. The fire danger rating is currently high throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre, with scattered pockets of extreme.
The fire centre notes:
- With the current trend of warm and dry weather, wildfires in the region have displayed very aggressive behaviour and required additional fire suppression resources. Human-caused wildfires can divert critical resources and crews from responding to naturally occurring wildfires.
- Open burning is prohibited throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. This prohibition applies to open fires of any size, fires with a burn registration number, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches and burning barrels. The prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.
- The open burning prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of local governments that have forest fire prevention bylaws and are serviced by a fire department. Please check with local governments for any other restrictions before lighting a fire.
Although the Kamloops Fire Centre campfire ban does not apply within the boundaries of local governments, the Regional District of Central Okanagan is instituting its own campfire ban.
The regional district ban also goes into effect at noon Friday.
“Local fire chiefs have decided to implement the total ban on campfires within all local government jurisdictions of the Regional District of Central Okanagan, including the City of Kelowna, District of West Kelowna, District of Lake Country, District of Peachland and the Central Okanagan East and West Electoral Areas,” said Bruce Smith, communications officer. “Campfires are not permitted at any time within the City of Kelowna.”
Open burning has not been allowed within any jurisdiction of the regional district and member municipalities since April. Local bylaws prohibit the use of any fireworks at any time throughout the Central Okanagan.
Violators within the regional district could receive a fine and be charged the cost of the fire department response to a burning complaint.
Anyone found in violation of an open fire ban, including campfires, within the Kamloops Fire Centre, may be issued a ticket for up to $345. Anyone who causes a wildfire through arson or recklessness may be fined up to $1 million, spend up to three years in prison and be held accountable for associated firefighting costs.
Residents are encouraged to report anyone who is illegally burning by calling the Kelowna Fire Department Regional Dispatch Centre at 250-469-8577.